Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Prophet of Chaos and Idolatry Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

One of the criteria that the Quran gives to test whether it is from God is to see if it contains any contradictions:

Do they not then consider the Quran carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much contradictions. S. 4:82 Hilali-Khan

It further claims that Muhammad never spoke from his own desire, but only spoke by way of revelation and inspiration:

By the Star when it setteth, Your comrade erreth not, nor is deceived; Nor doth he speak of (his own) desire. It is naught save an inspiration that is inspired, Which one of mighty powers hath taught him, S. 53:1-5 Pickthall

The hadiths concur with this point:

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As:
I used to write everything which I heard from the Apostle of Allah. I intended (by it) to memorise it. The Quraysh prohibited me saying: Do you write everything that you hear from him while the Apostle of Allah is a human being: he speaks in anger and pleasure? So I stopped writing, and mentioned it to the Apostle of Allah. He signalled with his finger to his mouth and said: Write, by Him in Whose hand my soul lies, only right comes out from it.

Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani) (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 25, Number 3639: see also here; italicized emphasis ours)

In light of these assertions we are going to examine both the Quran and the allegedly sound ahadith to see what Muhammad supposedly taught concerning prayers and invocations. This will help us show that one of the major reasons for the great divide, which exists among Muslims regarding essential, key doctrinal issues, is primarily because of the contradictory teachings attributed to Muhammad.


Invoking Muhammad

According to the “sound” narrations, Muhammad claimed that, after his death Allah would continue to show him all the deeds of his followers. As a result, Muhammad would continue to pray for his community even while buried in his grave:

(1) Ibn Mas‘ud’s authentic narration of the Prophet’s witnessing of all the deeds of the Umma from his Barzakh:

The Prophet said: “My life is a great good for you, you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, your actions will be exhibited to me, and if I see good­ness I will praise Allah, and if I see evil I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.” (Hayâtî khayrun lakum tuhaddithûna wa yuhad­dathu lakum wa wafâtî khayrun lakum tu‘radu a‘malukum ‘alayya famâ ra’aytu min khayrin hamidtu Allâha wa mâ ra’aytu min shar­rin istagh­fartu Allâha lakum.)[5] (The Omnipresence of the Prophet; bold emphasis ours)

[5] Narrated from Ibn Mas‘ud by al-Bazzar in his Musnad (1:397) with a sound chain as stated by al-Suyuti in Manahil al-Safa (p. 31 #8) and al-Khasa’is al-Kubra (2:281), al-Haythami (9:24 #91), and al-‘Iraqi in Tarh al-Tathrib (3:297) – his last book, as opposed to al-Mughni‘an Haml al-Asfar (4:148) where he questions the trustworthy rank of one of the narrators in al-Bazzar’s chain. Shaykh ‘Abd Allah al-Talidi said in his Tahdhib al-Khasa’is al-Kubra (p. 458-459 #694) that this chain is sound according to Muslim’s criterion, and Shaykh Mahmud Mamduh in Raf‘al-Minara (p. 156-169) discusses it at length and declares it sound. Their shaykh, al-Sayyid ‘ Abd Allah ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari (d. 1413/1993) declared it sound in his monograph Nihaya al-Amal fi Sharh wa Tashih Hadith ‘Ard al-A‘mal. Opposing these six or more judgments al-Albani declares it weak in his notes on al-Qadi Isma‘il’s Fadl al-Salat (p. 37 n. 1). It is also nar­rated with weak chains from Anas and – with two sound mursal chains missing the Companion-link – from the Succes­sor Bakr ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Muzani by Isma‘il al-Qadi (d. 282) in his Fadl al-Salat ‘ala al-Nabi (SAWS) (p. 36-39 #25-26). The latter chain was declared sound by al-Qari in Sharh al-Shifa’ (1:102), Shaykh al-Islam al-Taqi al-Subki in Shifa’ al-Siqam, his critic Ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi in al-Sarim al-Munki (p. 217), and al-Albani in his Silsila Da‘ifa (2:405). A third, weak chain is related from Bakr al-Muzani by al-Harith ibn Abi Usama (d. 282) in his Musnad (2:884) as per Ibn Hajar in al-Matalib al-‘Aliya (4:23) and Ibn Sa‘d in his Tabaqat as per al-Munawi in Fayd al-Qadir (3:401 #3771). Al-Qadi ‘Iyad  cites it in al-Shifa (p. 58 #6) and al-Sakhawi in al-Qawl al-Badi‘. Al-Albani declared the hadith weak on the grounds that some authorities questioned the memo­rization of the Murji’ hadith master ‘Abd al-Majid ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Abi Rawwad. However, he was retained by Muslim in his Sahih and declared thiqa by Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Shahin, al-Khalili, and al-Daraqutni, while al-Dhahabi listed him in Man Tukullima Fihi Wa Huwa Mu­waththaq (p. 124) as stated by Mamduh in Raf‘ al-Minara (p. 163, 167). Al-Arna’ut and Ma‘ruf declare him thiqa in Tahrir al-Taqrib (2:379 #4160) as well as Dr. Nur al-Din ‘Itr in his edition of al-Dhahabi’s Mughni (1:571 #3793) and Dr. Khaldun al-Ahdab in Zawa’id Tarikh Baghdad (10:464). Even if al-Albani’s grading were hypothetically accepted, then the weak musnad narra­tion in conjunction with the sound mursal one – graded sahîh by al-Albani – would yield a final grading of hasan or sahîh, not da‘îf. In addition to this, Mamduh quoted al-Albani’s own words in the latter’s attempted refu­tation of Shaykh Isma‘il al-Ansari entitled Kitab al-Shaybani (1:134-135) whereby “The sound mursal hadith is a proof in all Four Schools and other than them among the Imams of the principles of hadith and fiqh, therefore it is apparent to every fair-minded person that the position whereby such a hadith does not form a proof only because it is mursal, is untenable.” This is one of many examples in which al-Albani not only contradicts, but soundly refutes himself.

Shaykh Hasanayn Muhammad Makhluf wrote in his Fatawa Shar‘iyya (1:91-92): “The hadith means that the Prophet is a great good for his Community during his life, because Allah the Exalted has preserved the Community, through the secret of the Prophet’s presence, from misguidance, confusion, and disagreement, and He has guided the people through the Prophet to the manifest truth; and that after Allah took back the Prophet, our connection to the latter’s goodness continues uncut and the ex­tension of his goodness endures, overshadowing us. The deeds of the Community are shown to him every day, and he glorifies Allah for the goodness that he finds, while he asks for His forgiveness for the small sins, and the alleviation of His punishment for the grave ones: and this is a tremendous good for us. There is therefore ‘goodness for the Community in his life, and in his death, goodness for the Community.’ Moreover, as has been established in the hadith, the Prophet is alive in his grave with a special ‘isthmus-life’ stronger than the lives of the martyrs which the Qur’an spoke of in more than one verse. The nature of these two kinds of life can­not be known except by their Bestower, the Glorious, the Exalted. He is able to do all things. His showing the Community’s deeds to the Prophet as an honorific gift for him and his Community is entirely possible rationally and documented in the reports. There is no leeway for its denial; and Allah guides to His light whomever He pleases; and Allah knows best.” (Underline emphasis ours)

Muhammad also exhorted his companions to continue praying for him even after his death, since Allah would enable him to see and hear their supplications. Muhammad promised that he would then personally greet that person and invoke Allah on his behalf. The following narrations are all taken from Riyad as-Salihin, The Book of Supplicating Allah to Exalt the Mention of Allah's Messenger. All italicized and underline emphasis shall be mine:

Aus bin Aus reported:

The Messenger of Allah said, "Among the best of your days is Friday; so supplicate Allah more often for me in it, for your supplications will be displayed to me." He was asked: "O Messenger of Allah! How will our blessings be displayed to you when your decayed body will have mixed with the earth?" He replied, "Allah has prohibited the earth from consuming the bodies of the Prophets."

[Abu Dawud]. reference: Book 15, Hadith 3

Arabic/English book reference: Book 15, Hadith 1399

Abu Hurairah reported:

The Messenger of Allah said, "Do not make my grave a place of festivity, and supplicate Allah for me, for your supplication reaches me wherever you are."

[Abu Dawud]. reference: Book 15, Hadith 5

Arabic/English book reference: Book 15, Hadith 1401

Abu Hurairah reported:

The Messenger of Allah  said, "Whenever someone greets me, Allah returns the soul to my body (in the grave) and I return his greeting."

[Abu Dawud]. reference: Book 15, Hadith 6

Arabic/English book reference: Book 15, Hadith 1402

Muhammad even went as far as to instruct the Muslims to speak directly to him in their daily prayers:

Narrated Shaqiq bin Salama:
'Abdullah said, "Whenever we prayed behind the Prophet we used to recite (in sitting) 'Peace be on Gabriel, Michael, peace be on so and so. Once Allah's Apostle looked back at us and said, 'Allah Himself is As-Salam (Peace), and if anyone of you prays then he should say, At-Tahiyatu lil-lahi wassalawatu wat-taiyibatu. As-Salamu 'ALAIKA aiyuha-n-Nabiyu wa rahmatu-l-lahi wa barakatuHU. As-Salam alaina wa ala ibadil-lah is-salihin. (All the compliments, prayers and good things are due to Allah: peace be on YOU, O Prophet and Allah's mercy and blessings be on YOU. Peace be on us and on the true pious slaves of Allah). (If you say that, it will be for all the slaves in the heaven and the earth). Ash-hadu an la-ilaha illa-l-lahu wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan 'abduhu wa Rasuluhu. (I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I also testify that Muhammad is His slave and His Apostle)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 12, Number 794)


Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Urwa ibn az-Zubayr from Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abd al-Qari that he heard Umar ibn al-Khattab say, while he was teaching people the tashahhud from the mimbar, "Say, Greetings belong to Allah. Pure actions belong to Allah. Good words and prayers belong to Allah. Peace on YOU, Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and on the slaves of Allah who are salihun. I testify that there is no god except Allah. And I testify that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger."

'At-tahiyatu lillah, az-zakiyatu lillah, at-tayibatu wa's-salawatu lillah. As-salamu ALAYKA ayyuha'nnabiyyu wa rahmatu'llahi wa barakatuHU. As-salamu alayna wa ala ibadi'llahi s-salihin. Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa 'llah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh." (Malik’s Muwatta,Book 3, Number 3.14.56)

That’s not all he did. Muhammad personally taught a blind man to invoke him by name in the man’s supplication to Allah:

3578. ‘Uthman bin Hunaif narrated that a blind man came to the Prophet and said to him: “Supplicate to Allah to heal me.” He said: “If you wish, I will supplicate for you, and if you wish, you can be patient, for that is better for you.” He said: “Then supplicate to him.” He said: “So he ordered him to perform Wudu’ and to make his Wudu’ complete, and to supplicate with this supplication: ‘O Allah, I ask You and turn towards You by Your Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. Indeed, I have turned to my Lord, BY MEANS OF YOU, concerning this need of mine, so that it can be resolved, So Allah so accept HIS INTERCESSION for me (Allahumma Inni As’aluka WA MUHAMMADIN Nabi-Ir-Rahmati Tawajjahtu Bika Ila Rabbi Fi Hajati Hadhihi Lituqda Li, Allahumma FASHAFFI‘HU Fiya).’” (SAHIH)

[He said]: This Hadith is Hasan SAHIH Gharib, we do not know of it except through this route, as a narration of Abu Ja‘far, and he is someone other than Al-Khatmi, [and Uthman bin Hunaif is the brother of Sahl bin Hunaif] (English Translation of Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi: Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu ‘Eisa Mohammad Ibn ‘Eisa At-Tirmidhi, translated by Abu Khaliyl (USA), ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: November 2007], Volume 6, From Hadith No. 3291 to 3956, Various Narrations On The Chapters Of Supplications, Chapter 118, p. 283; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Here is a different version of this same hadith:

1385. It was narrated from ‘Uthman bin Hunaif that a blind man came to the Prophet and said to him: “Pray to Allah to heal me.” He said: “If you wish to store your reward for the Hereafter, that is better, or if you wish, I will supplicate for you.” He said: “Supplicate.” He said: “So he told him to perform ablution and do it well, and to pray two Rak’ah, and to say this supplication: “Allahumma inni as’aluka wa atawajjahu ilaika BI-MUHAMMADIN NABIYYIR-RAHMA.YA MUHAMMADU inni qad tawajjahtu bika ila rabbi fi hajati hadhihi Lituqda. Allahumma FASHAFFI‘HU fiya (O Allah, I ask of You and I turn my face towards You BY VIRTUE OF THE INTERCESSION OF MUHAMMAD THE PROPHET OF MERCY. O MUHAMMAD, I have turned to my Lord BY VIRTUE OF YOUR INTERCESSION concerning this need of mine, so that it may be met. O Allah, accept HIS INTERCESSION concerning me)”. (SAHIH) (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah: Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 2, From Hadith no. 803 to 1782, 5. The Chapters Of Establishing The Prayer And The Sunnah Regarding Them, Chapter 189. What Was Narrated Concerning Prayer At Times Of Need, pp. 329-330; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Interestingly, this same exact invocation was employed by a specific Muslim many years after Muhammad’s death:

Moreover, Tabarani, in his "al-Mu'jam al saghir," reports a hadith from 'Uthman ibn Hunayf that a man repeatedly visited Uthman ibn Affan concerning something he needed, but Uthman paid no attention to him or his need. The man met Ibn Hunayf and complained to him about the matter - this being after the death (wisal) of the Prophet and after the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar - so Uthman ibn Hunayf, who was one of the Companions who collected hadiths and was learned in the religion of Allah, said: "Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then come to the mosque, perform two rak'as of prayer therein, and say:

'O Allah, I ask You and turn to You through our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy; O MUHAMMAD (YA MUHAMMAD), I TURN THROUGH YOU to my Lord, that He may fulfill my need,' and mention your need. Then come so that I can go with you [to the caliph Uthman]." So the man left and did as he had been told, then went to the door of Uthman ibn Affan, and the doorman came, took him by the hand, brought him to Uthman ibn Affan, and seated him next to him on a cushion. 'Uthman asked, "What do you need?" and the man mentioned what he wanted, and Uthman accomplished it for him, then he said, "I hadn't remembered your need until just now," adding, "Whenever you need something, just mention it." Then, the man departed, met Uthman ibn Hunayf, and said to him, "May Allah reward you! He didn't see to my need or pay any attention to me until you spoke with him." Uthman ibn Hunayf replied, "By Allah, I didn't speak to him, but I have seen a blind man come to the Messenger of Allah  and complain to him of the loss of his eyesight. The Prophet said, "Can you not bear it?' and the man replied, 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not have anyone to lead me around, and it is a great hardship for me.' The Prophet told him, 'Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then pray two rak'as of prayer and make the supplications.'" Ibn Hunayf went on, "By Allah, we didn't part company or speak long before the man returned to us as if nothing had ever been wrong with him."

This is an explicit, unequivocal text from a prophetic Companion proving the legal validity of tawassul through the dead. The account has been classified AS RIGOROUSLY AUTHENTICATED (SAHIH) by Baihaqi, Mundhiri, and Haythami. (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law (Umdat Al-Salik) in Arabic with facing English text, Commentary and Appendices, edited and translated by Nuh Hah Mim Keller [Amana Corporation; Revised edition , July 1, 1997], w40.4, pp. 936-937; bold and capital emphasis ours)

This means that according to the rigorously authenticated ahadith, Muhammad actually taught people to pray to him directly, both in their daily acts of worship, i.e. salat, as well as in their invocations to Allah.

With that said we are ready to proceed to the second part of our discussion in order to see the major problems that these narrations raise for Muslims.